Responding to Differences
How do we respond to people who are either different or doing things we don't agree with?
We've all avoided someone just because they looked or acted different from us. Maybe they dressed like a goth or were acting super emo. Or maybe their hipster vibe seemed lame. But Jesus loved everyone, no matter what they looked like. He could've hung out with anyone he wanted. He was famous, after all, and often he chose to be around the lowliest members of society. For instance:
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:15-17 NIV)
What was Jesus' motive for hanging out with tax collectors and "sinners"? It was certainly pure—focused on healing and teaching people about God. Jesus' motives were always pure. Can we say that about our motives? Are they always pure?
When we see someone doing something we don't agree with—drinking at a party, smoking a cigarette or a joint, gossiping big time, shoplifting, whatever it is—do we say something to them? Ignoring the situation is probably the easiest thing to do, but it's not always the most Christian approach. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say something, to speak up, to take a stand—but we need to check our motives first. Make sure we're speaking or acting from a place of love and respect. That way, if our words are disregarded or if we're teased, we won't feel hurt because we spoke from a selfless place.
Plus, when we speak from the heart, the person we're talking to will likely step up and speak from the heart, too. Maybe we'll even make a new friend.